By Steve Silverman
» More Columns

The acquisition of Rick Nash should mean that the Rangers have an excellent chance to repeat their performance as the top team in the Eastern Conference.

But signing free-agent forward Shane Doan would put the Rangers in the driver’s seat for the Stanley Cup.

Of course, we are putting the cart before the horse. Who knows if there will even be a hockey season this year? The NHL and the NHLPA are in the early stages of attempting to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement because the current CBA expires on Sept. 15.

While the rhetoric at this point is calm and almost peaceful –- Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr almost seem like long-lost brothers — the NHL’s first offer was not a friendly one.

They want to pay out less than the 57 percent of revenues they say they currently pay in salaries. How much less the NHLPA accepts is ultimately willing to settle on will likely determine whether there is a work stoppage or not.

For the purpose of this column, we will assume that both Bettman and Fehr don’t want labor unrest and will find a way to avoid a work stoppage. That’s a dangerous place to be, since both men have shown a tendency to show off their little-man complexes when cornered.

But if the Rangers can convince Doan to leave the desert and the Coyotes and put on a red, white and blue jersey, the Rangers may be in the position of clear favorites heading into the 2012-13 season.

Doan, standing six-foot-one and weighing 230 pounds of pure muscle, is a player who combines toughness, honesty and legitimate goal-scoring talent. The 35-year-old has been with the Coyotes since the Winnipeg Jets moved out of the hinterlands and to the desert prior to the 1996-97 season.

Doan feels quite a bit of loyalty to the organization, which is strange because the team has been run by the league for so long and its ownership history is quite dubious.

According to reports, Doan would like to stay with the Coyotes if prospective owner Greg Jamison can close the deal to take control of the team, but it probably won’t happen soon enough.

As a result, Doan could sign with the Rangers, Flyers or somebody else in the next few days.

While Doan is still planning to talk with the Montreal Canadiens, it would appear that the Rangers are in the driver’s seat if he does leave. For one thing, the prospect of playing for a team that is the likely Stanley Cup favorite would have to appeal to him.

Doan is the kind of player who is willing to take an elbow to the chops in exchange for a goal-scoring opportunity. He scored 22 goals and added 28 assists last year, and he has scored 30 goals or more twice in his career. Doan will pay the price in front of the net, go into the corners so he can dig the puck out and make a play, and will also punish opponents with a hard body check.

His edginess and intelligence makes him a formidable player. Put him on a team with forwards like Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Nash, and that would make the Rangers a very difficult team to stop.

If Glen Sather can complete the deal, then the Rangers would certainly pass the eye test for championship timber.

All they would have to do is play their 82 regular-season games, run through the playoffs and then hoist the Stanley Cup. It’s just that easy.

Of course, it’s anything but easy. However, it would appear that if Doan joins the Rangers, Sather will have done everything necessary to give John Tortorella the ingredients to win the whole thing.

If you thought Tortorella was a bit high-strung in years past, his blood pressure may simply burst through the top of the bulb on the sphygmomanometer — that’s the old blood pressure meter — if the Rangers lose two games in a row next season.

But with that defense and the best goaltender in the league — combined with a much more proficient offense — the role of favorites should fit this team well, even if it causes their coach to press down on the gas pedal even harder.

What chance do you think the Rangers have of landing Shane Doan? And would his addition make the Rangers instant Cup favorites? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…